Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

Politics has earned its reputation as a nasty business.

National campaigns that include the quadrennial presidential election - only one more day of the current iteration, fortunately - tend to get particularly fractious.

So we were pleased, and not a little surprised, during the current campaign by the general tone of civility that distinguished the letters to the editor we received from local residents endorsing a candidate in one of the local races.

We published more than two dozen of these, and with a few exceptions the writers emphasized what they consider the attractive qualities of their preferred candidate, as opposed to the common tactic of trying to besmirch the reputation of the opponent.

We did print several of the latter type of letter, but most of those dealt with the presidential campaign rather than with a Baker County contest.

This discrepancy is to be expected, of course.

It's pretty easy to lambaste Barack Obama or Mitt Romney for paragraph after paragraph - it's not as if you're likely to run into either candidate in the supermarket or your kids' ballgame and perhaps have to defend your harsh words.

Writers are somewhat more judicious, in most cases, when they're commenting about people they know.

That said, we were reminded during this season, when the opinions flew as thickly as maple leaves, that we prefer to read endorsements that eschew the brand of incendiary language with which Americans were bombarded.

There's nothing inherently wrong, of course, with pointing out what you believe are a candidate's flaws.

But such criticism needn't devolve into meaningless name-calling.

In our endorsement of Romney, for instance, we argued that Obama has failed to revive the U.S. economy.

But it's not because he's a bad guy, or a Marxist, or a Muslim bent on reducing the U.S. to Third World status, as some of his most zealous critics contend.

Elections aren't see-saws - you needn't drag down the candidate you dislike to elevate the one you prefer.